Here’s one chemical to avoid when shopping for sunscreen

  • Jul. 3, 2017 2:45 p.m.

When you reach for sunscreen to take to the pool this summer, flip it over in the store and check the ingredients.

If avobenzone is among them, you might want to put it back on the shelf.

New research suggests that the chemical can break down when exposed to a combination of light and chlorinated water.

“It can degrade into some very harmful compounds, some of which are known carcinogens,” said Daniel Aires, a dermatologist with the University of Kansas Health System. “What isn’t known is how much is absorbed into the skin, or if it’s to a level that can cause or potentially increase the risk of cancer. But this is certainly alarming.”

Aires said avobenzone should be of particular concern for young children, who might lick their arms for no apparent reason after they’ve been in the pool and ingest the chemical after it has broken down.

“For smaller kids especially, I think it’s probably just best to avoid it in case it goes in the mouth,” Aires said.

Aires said there’s plenty of sunscreens that don’t have avobenzone. The safest, most proven products are based on zinc and titanium, but not micro-sized zinc and titanium, he said, and not sprays. Lotions are better.

“The drawback to those sunscreens is they tend to look kind of chalky,” Aires said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first approved an avobenzone-based sunscreen product in 1988.

If sunscreen with avobenzone is all that’s on hand, Aires said it’s better to use it than expose skin to sunlight for prolonged periods without any protection. The research suggesting avobenzone might cause harm is still preliminary, while research connecting sunburns to increased risk of cancer is definitive.

“If the choice is between getting a sunburn and using a sunscreen with some risk, it’s probably better to use the sunscreen,” Aires said.

Just Posted

After death of 8th child, Ikea relaunches dresser recall in U.S and Canada

NEW YORK — Ikea relaunched a recall of 29 million chests and… Continue reading

Decision on Haitians’ status in the U.S. has Canada on alert for asylum seekers

OTTAWA — A decision by the Trump administration to end a temporary… Continue reading

European court opens hearing on recognizing same-sex unions

BUCHAREST, Romania — The European Court of Justice on Tuesday opened a… Continue reading

German police retrieve 100 stolen John Lennon items

BERLIN — A cigarette case, a handwritten musical score, three diaries and… Continue reading

Trump administration announces sanctions against North Korea

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration plans to announce Tuesday new sanctions on… Continue reading

VIDEO: Replay Red Deer: Nov. 19

Watch news highlights from the week of Nov. 13

Red Deer Christmas Bureau to help 1,300 children this year

Demand is high, but Red Deer always provides

CP Holiday train will stop in some Central Alberta communities

The popular train will feature entertainment from Colin James and Emma-Lee

Kittens rescued after allegedly being tossed from vehicle

Couple finds abandoned kittens new home through Facebook

VIDEO: ‘Party bus’ goes up in flames in Vancouver

Fire crews responded to the late night blaze

Chicken crosses B.C. road, stops traffic

Rooster makes early morning commuters wait in Maple Ridge

Red Deerian honours her brother who died in a motorcycle collision

Houaida Haddad is encouraging Red Deer residents to donate blood

Red Deer County firefighters to be recognized for Waterton help

RCMP brass will give formal recognition Monday

Ron James tries to lighten humanity’s load through humour

The comedian returns to Red Deer for shows Dec. 1 and 2

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month